Mass WASSCE failure: Why now?

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THE general performance of candidates that sat for 2020/2021 West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in Nigeria depicts anything but inspiring. In the result released by the examination body recently, 70 per cent of the candidates that sat for the exam failed, going by Nigeria’s standard of assessment.

  THIS is premised on the fact that a candidate who failed to make at least credit level in five subjects including English language and mathematics out of about eight or nine subjects registered is considered not to be successful in the examination. Admission qualifications into the Nigerian universities underscore this fact and emphasise how germane the minimum requirement could be to any senior school leaver aspiring to pursue higher studies in the country’s university.

  GIVEN that the Nigerian candidate had six years (three years in junior secondary school and three years in senior secondary school levels) to prepare for the exam, it may defy logics how misfits converge to take the examination and end up sampling their unpreparedness with disappointing poor runs in the exam.

  ARGUABLY, coronavirus pandemic obstructed academic sessions of the 2020/2021, affecting significant part of the pupils’ activities for the second term. As a result, pupils got shabbily groomed for major academic contests that could define their true ability. Examination situations of the 2020/2021 equally did not help matters as social distancing and facemasks wearing conditions created different psychological effects on these young minds. However, it ensured giraffing and communication practices in exam halls became nearly impossible.

  WHILE seeking a soft landing for the overall abysmal performance as reflected by the released result, it should not be forgotten that at the point of the COVID-19 outbreak, which led to shutting down of schools, markets, churches amongst other public places, SSCE candidates are supposed to be in their revision time preparatory for their final examination just a few months away after six years of preparations.

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  THE questions are, what more could pupils have acquired with the remaining three months to their SSCE exams that the past five and some fraction months could not offer? Who bears the blame for this poor educational run in the country? Could the fingers point to teachers, pupils, the system itself or just the pandemic?

  THERE are possibilities that the invigilators were either not active or prepared or that the school did not prepare the pupils well as authorities were confused and afraid by the pandemic and issues relating to it and were not well prepared. Also, the pupils stayed months at home and even if they were being forced to study by parents and guardians, some of them faced other things during the lockdown and forgot academic preparations.

  APPARENTLY, the decision for schools to be vacated by pupils as necessitated by the prevailing circumstance only facilitated the dead end a moribund odyssey was sure to yield.

  THE adoption of online learning system prescribed by the education authority seemed the only viable option to connect pupils with formal learning classes the pandemic halted, but even with that novel switch, the ominous signs of no matching solution to a systemic crisis were palpable to all discerning minds.

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  GOOD as the radio and television air teaching programme arranged by the educational authorities in collaboration with schools were, they fell short of meeting expectations. The topics and quality of teaching the selected teachers for the purpose delivered were less impactful to lift pupils from mediocrity to excellent level.

  ANOTHER obvious snag was inability of the system to ensure proper follow-up on the pupils’ assimilation of the lessons they receive from the electronic media or are assumed to have received through result oriented evaluation exercises. The system advocated for pupils at their teens to have access to smart phones and internet devices, but what the system could not control was what these young minds would prefer to preoccupy their minds within the internet world. The pornographic sites snap chats, WhatsApp and other social media platforms gained more patronage by this group and instead of reaping helpful knowledge in the internet, had their moral psyche destroyed and focus subverted.

  BUT should keeping the pupils back in school against health experts’ directives be the option? No! But parents and guardians of pupils ought to have done more here. They should have realised in good time the emerging catastrophe (moral) to invest more time and attention in controlling the tendencies of their wards before it takes a sordid trajectory.

  IN THE midst of all these, pupils were hurriedly put back to school with a good percentage of them, having a different mindset of life. Parents concurred with their return at least as a respite to the added responsibility of having to deal with their delinquencies at home.

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The West African Examination Body saw all these but did not see any reason to postpone the year’s exams and give pupils sufficient time to prepare for it. Perhaps, the revenue realisable from the exam was more important to the body than the outcome.

  NOW that the pupils have massively failed, WASSCE should know they have created a burden of re-orienting and re-articulating these volatile minds across Africa. Some of those who failed may have to re-sit, costing parents and guardians more expense and pain. Some others may abandon schools entirely and try their hands in different endeavours.

  THE danger is that candidates next in line are not showing any better prospects with incongruous academic programs bent on pushing pupils across what could have been a lost academic year and have them pay all their tuition.

  NATIONAL Light believes that if education is the bedrock of a progressive economy as advocated by UNESCO, it definitely should not be a shambolic education that offers nothing much to the recipients’ intellectual development.

  IT IS equally our considered view that the lessons from COVID-19 impact on the country’s education system be utilised positively, deepening online learning culture by exposing pupils to the practice and monitoring their progress. Better success in this regard can only be achieved when schools are equipped with necessary logistics for that purpose.

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